After a very sleepy start the next morning we packed up and moved on yet again, this time heading for Santa Fe. On the way we passed through the centre of Amarillo to the Historic Route 66 shopping district - it was a very weird street full of what seemed to be abandoned shops that must once have been popular gift shops and cafes when Route 66 was in its prime. Just outside Amarillo we made another stop at the famous Cadillac Ranch – an area of desert with 10 classic Cadillacs sticking out of the ground. Over the years people have graffitied on the cars to create a stunning piece of art. It’s hard to imagine that these were once real cars on the roads! Something exciting also happened at the Cadillac ranch – we saw our first tumbleweed! It doesn’t sound exciting but it was one of those things you always see in films and wonder how often it really happens, so we were very excited to see a huge ball of tumbleweed flying towards us across the desert!
Afterwards we carried on a bit longer then stopped just outside Santa Rosa for something to eat. We also visited a classic car museum which was fun! It was a very small museum but with loads of interesting things to see. It was really just one big room crammed with classic cars, from Cadillacs to Mustangs and everything in between! I’m not a massive car fan myself but even I had a good time (Greg was running around like a child in a sweet shop so I think he enjoyed it too). After finally dragging him away from the cars, it was then back on the road for the final leg of our journey that day.
Although we didn’t have a great night, Gallup did serve its purpose of being a good place to break up our journey to Monument Valley. So the next day we set off bright and early back into the desert, where I had another go at driving and loved it! The landscape heading into Utah is stunning – wide open deserts with huge red rock formations rising up from the horizons. After one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever been on we finally arrived in Monument Valley. I’d been looking forward to visiting this place for ages, as it was actually a photo of Monument Valley that inspired me to start planning a trip to the USA! After a brief stop at the visitor centre (where we saw a really cute roadrunner!) we headed off to do the self-drive tour of the valley. There were signs everywhere saying the road wasn’t suitable for cars and you need to have a 4x4 to go down it, but everyone else seemed to be managing in cars so we gave it a go. The first part of the road was very rocky and had to be taken really slowly but once you were down into the valley it was just a sandy road which was fine to drive on. And what a drive it was! It was absolutely beautiful! You could go as slowly as you liked and stop at various points to get out of the car, so we made the most of it and stopped at every possible point! The landscape was just beautiful and I had to keep checking that I wasn’t dreaming!
After a long hour of hanging around in the sleepy town of Page, we finally began our tour. We were slightly disappointed to discover that you can’t explore Antelope Canyon by yourselves – it has to be with an official tour guide. We’re not really into big group tours and things like that but reluctantly we booked anyway as we really wanted to visit the canyon. We booked with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours and our group had Eugene as a guide. He was fantastic! After a short but very bumpy ride in the back of a jeep over the sand, we arrived at the mouth of Antelope Canyon along with a few other groups. Eugene let us hang back so the canyon wouldn’t be too crowded, and then he led us inside. The canyon is beautiful – it’s very small so not good for anyone with claustrophobia, but it’s so fascinating! We wandered through, with Eugene chatting to everyone individually and advising people where the best spots were for photos. Around every bed of the canyon was something even more beautiful to see – it was amazing to see how the wind has shaped the walls of the rock and eroded them away over the years. The colours were also fantastic, with sun rays shining down making the sand and the walls glow orange and red. After exploring the canyon for around an hour we headed back to Page to resume our road trip. We had a quick stop off at the Horseshoe Bend along the Colorado River, before moving on to our main destination for the day – the Grand Canyon.
To be continued…